Looking forward to 2020

In farming, my motto is to never look back unless you have something to learn from it. However on a personal note, I have some wonderful family memories from the last decade, including my daughter’s wedding and the subsequent arrival of 2 grandchildren. My son left university with a first, successfully starting up his own business and then last Christmas got engaged. Visiting New Zealand with my wife Liz was something I will never forget. The problem is, remembering the visit just makes me wistful. If they would have me I would buy a one way ticket.

So what have I learnt? Firstly,  confirmation that you cannot trust a politician. Secondly, never try to out guess the weather and don’t whatever you do farm on the basis of what happened last year. The biggest single step forward in crop growing for us has not come out of a can, but from exploiting the use of variable applications to the crops. Following on from our own field trials we now vary seed rate, fertiliser and chemical applications. I expect to increase the use of these techniques over the next decade and to expand my use of digital analysis of field data to identify profitable areas. With a reduction in government support on the way and a much greater focus on the environmental impact of what we do, we have to be far more intelligent about how we produce crops. The mantra for the next decade will not be yield is king, but how sustainable our system is.

The flooding finally found its way south over the Christmas break, firstly the Berry Brook breaking its banks and then the River Thames. We had only managed to get 35ha of winter linseed established down by the river and 20 ha of this disappeared under flood water. As with the cereals in the past, it seems that as long as the water recedes within a couple of weeks, which as shown in the photo it is now doing, the plants will survive. The biggest threat is often the swans who land on the flooded areas and feed on the submerged plants. This time they seem to have decided linseed was not on the menu.

The 2020 growing season has not got off to a good start, but there is still a way to go. I look forward to the next decade with optimism, after all people still have to eat, we just need to make sure they consume more of what we can produce at home.

Wishing you all a Happy New Year and decade.

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